Today's poem is by John Hoppenthaler

The Gentleman Hunters Run Their Hounds
        —Lake Anna, Virginia

Let's hasten through this early spring plague,
ladybugs whirring about on pitiful wings

while their homes are burning. Earlier,
two does clambered uphill from the lake,

disappeared beyond construction waste
we've yet to haul to the dump. Minutes later,

a pack of howling dogs followed, numbers
stenciled on their sides, antennae protruding

from tracking devices attached to their collars.
I wished I were a hunter in camouflage,

tracking down those canine killers.
What would it be like

to sip Armagnac and smoke cigars
beneath their stuffed heads, bared teeth

polished and glistening in the firelight?
Some cultures eat them, I'm told,

but we scratch the fur behind their skittish ears.
Sunday morning, on ESPN, the celebrity hunter

murmured absent-mindedly as he kneeled
over the eight-point buck he'd just plugged

through the heart from three hundred yards,
stroking that same soft spot

behind the corpse's ear, almost whispering
to it: he was saying, "beautiful animal,

such a beautiful animal." You and I
are happier now that we've seen the error

of our ways. Though it is nearly dark,
coyotes will likely keep their distance

as we pick through our dense woods.
The last flaring of sunlight incites

the tree line into flame that will surely burn
everything to the ground, but I have never loved you

so much as I do now, yelping dogs
and their red-necked masters be damned.

Copyright © 2014 John Hoppenthaler All rights reserved
from Domestic Garden
Carnegie Mellon University Press
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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